Fundamental rights are rights due to community by the state. They are imperative to the development of the individual, the society. They are enshrined in the constitution of a country. Fundamental rights also imply the preservation of property, optimum quality of life, and freedom of speech and of religious practice.
These views were expressed by Dr Sanaullah Abbasi, inspector-general of Police (IGP) of Gilgit-Baltistan, on Wednesday while addressing the students of the Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (SZABIST) on the subject titled, “Fundamental Rights and Peace”.
Fundamental rights are enforceable by the judiciary and recognised by the state, he said. “There has to be justice in society and only the provision of fundamental rights can ensure justice.”
“Justice will make fault lines die out,” he said. By fault lines, he said he meant irritants like the ethnic divide, the urban-rural divide, the religious divide and so on so forth. He spoke of the Peace Index which, he said, had three main components: absence of violence, economic viability, and social justice
He said that the peace index in the far-flung, rural parts of Pakistan was very high. “Give the people their rights and there will be peace,” he said.
Noted women’s rights activist and social society figure Anis Haroon began her discourse by talking about religious freedom and cooperation and said, “We should facilitate the worship of the minority communities and cooperate with them.”
She said, “It is we the masses who have to struggle for the attainment of our rights. If we don’t, the consciousness of the society will die out.”
After this, her talk took a significantly gender-based turn and she talked of the formation of WAF (Women’s Action Forum) in 1981. She narrated in detail the opposition to the struggle for women’s rights by the obscurantists and misogynists and noted how at every step the women had resisted their moves. As a result, she said, so many anti-women laws had been repealed.
As for capital punishment, Abbasi said that nothing could be said very definitely. In certain societies, he said, capital punishment would be practical while in others it would be certainly an excess.
As for the missing persons in Pakistan, an issue which has been the cause of extreme turmoil for so many families, he said that the issue had brought Pakistan a really bad name internationally but said that efforts were afoot to deal with it.
Anis Haroon disapproved of capital punishment on the grounds that there was too much of miscarriage of justice and very often innocent people went to the gallows. As for the minorities, Abbasi said that he was against the term ‘minorities’ as they were absolutely equal members of society and the country. They were absolute full citizens, he said.
The talks were followed by an animated question-answer session.